Defending Normal

It’s hard to defend normal.

The quirks every person carries hidden within — the eccentricities we all display — the oddities we’re barely aware of that cause others to stare and quickly look away. Ironically, in healthy humans, many abnormalities are actually signs of normality. The issue becomes confusing because in our culture, all Normal is not created equal. 

For instance — suppose I put a bright blue streak down the middle of my bushy gray hair. I’m 59 years old, Caucasian, 5’4”, therapist-turned-author, mother of three grown children. Most likely, people would smile and shake their heads in quiet amusement. Some might find me ridiculous, but others might admire my moxie: “Kudos to embracing middle age!” 

Suppose a teenager put the same bright blue streak down the middle of her thick brown hair, and gave a speech to support #NeverAgain. Her blue streak might draw an entirely different reaction. For people who disagree with gun control, hunting for a way to discredit that girl — her blue streak would provide the perfect lightning rod. “She’s just a teen pitching a tantrum; I mean, c’mon, look at that blue streak!”

Finally, suppose a gay or lesbian parent put a blue streak in his or her or their hair. For those uncomfortable with same sex moms and dads, an entirely different reaction would rocket to the surface. “Gays and lesbians shouldn’t be parents; I mean, c’mon, look at that blue streak!”

The LGBTQ+ community continues to be under attack, and Oklahoma has now enabled adoptions to be banned if the parents are gay men or lesbian women, single mothers or interfaith couples. To me, the LGBTQ+ spectrum, added to cisgender and straight, is simply the range of normal. But as I said, it’s hard to defend normal. If you’re bound and determined to find quirks in these potential parents, you’ll have no trouble finding them, not because they’re gay or trans or single or bi or straight or interfaith or non binary — but because they’re human. And if you’re equally intent on viewing those quirks as flaws, then you’ll disqualify a lot of loving and stable homes. 

We all carry a blue streak of one kind or another, literal or figurative. But a blue streak in a cisgender, straight, Caucasian mother of three grown children is often assigned a vastly different meaning from that same blue streak in others. If somebody makes you uncomfortable, then suddenly their blue streak is evidence of a massive character deficit. All blue streaks are not created equal.

If you’re judging parents for being gay men or lesbian women, then I wonder if you’ve actually met LGBTQ+ parents. Do you know them well? Did you have a friendly conversation, or were you digging for evidence of flaws? I do know parents who identify with various parts of the gender and sexual spectrum. Lesbian parents, gay parents, cis parents, bi parents, trans parents, straight parents, other parents —  we’re all in the community of parents. Would you consider that maybe, possibly, we might share more common ground than you expect?

Since I write fiction, I decided to do a bit of research. I googled lesbian parents in literature. Then gay parents. Then novels with LGBT parents. I was extremely glad to see that the number of children’s books on the subject is growing. But novels that include in the plot a same sex couple raising children — a portrayal of perfectly imperfect people who are loving and stable parents — I couldn’t find much. I did find some, and my second novel is among them — Tightwire. Meet Jeanne and Tracy, a lesbian couple raising two children, Heather (age 6) and Henry (age 9). As the plot unfolds, Jeanne and Tracy become role model parents for the main character, Collier — a young adult sorting out a troubled childhood. Jeanne and Tracy are caring and funny and lesbians and steady and quirky and loving and flawed and most of all — normal. 

Oklahoma, I’d like to introduce you to Jeanne and Tracy. They’d like to meet you, too.

____

Tightwire, Amy’s second novel, follows a rookie psych intern through her first year of clinical training, treating a stormy, troubled and talented young man, Collier. Two characters vital to the story are Jeanne and Tracy, a lesbian couple raising two children, who become role model parents for Collier, giving him the opportunity to experience a home built with love and stability. Tightwire is a story of the empowerment of becoming your full self.

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Filed under Equality, family, gay and lesbian parents, LGBT, Uncategorized

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